GREAT STIRRUP CAY, Bahamas — Cruising’s original private island, Great Stirrup Cay, is emerging from a major makeover.
As can be seen in the photo tour above, the 268-acre beach getaway owned by Norwegian Cruise Line has been spruced up over the past year with new and revamped food and drink venues, rebuilt cabanas and expanded areas of powdery soft sand. A large number of additional lounge chairs have been brought in, and there’s a new underwater sculpture garden for snorkelers. The company has spent more than $1 million on new landscaping.
More is coming. Still in the works is a new upscale lagoon area for passengers staying in the exclusive Haven cabins on Norwegian ships. It’ll feature 38 private villas with up to two bedrooms, a two-story restaurant and swim-up bar. There’s also a new spa area taking shape.
Acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line in 1977, Great Stirrup Cay is located in the Bahamas’ sparsely populated Berry Islands chain, about 62 miles from Nassau. During a typical week, it’s visited by several Norwegian Cruise Line ships for what, essentially, is a beach day. It also gets the occasional visit from the vessels of Norwegian’s sister lines Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises.
A staff of more than 60 people lives full time on the island to prepare it for ship visits.
Showing off new structures such as a taco eatery near the beach, Gonzalez says the aim of the overhaul is to give the 40-year-old retreat a more relaxed, resort-like feel. The new landscaping includes more than a thousand trees to cast more shade on island visitors. Pathways have been paved to offer a more elegant experience getting around. Additional seating areas have been added around a number of venues to create a cozier experience.
“It’s a substantial investment,” the Norwegian executive in charge of the overhaul, Carlos Gonzalez, told reporters during a recent tour. “This is the biggest (makeover) of the island ever.”